Opposition parties in the North West have accused the African National Congress (ANC) of using state resources to campaign for support.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) claim a series of mass-based meetings are being convened by State institutions under the guise of public consultation when they are actually meant to galvanise support for the ruling party.
The most recent event named “taking the legislature to the people” is alleged to have cost the provincial law-making body a whopping R5 million.
The EFF’s provincial secretary, Papiki Babuile, said none of the so-called public consultation meetings have provided solutions to frustrated communities.
“You get a lot of Imbizos and seminars being called, to come and listen to our people talk about some of the social ills that include a lack of service delivery. But the worrying part is that after listening to our people it seems this is taken as a Public Relations exercise.
“All those issues that our people have raised on all these platforms are not responded to. Our people have always raised issues about water and roads. So at all these Imbizo you get the same issue being raised over and over again. But the government doesn’t respond.
“So we view these Imbizo and seminars as a way politicians, who are leading some of these departments, are using it as an opportunity to loot State resources because they have to procure transport, food, and other services to enable these processes to unfold.
“And the process at the end of the day doesn’t have any results. We all know the problems of our people. We know that the government doesn’t provide services to our people. We know that MECs are nowhere to be found. Yet our people are always called in gatherings to raise the same issues every year,” Babuile said.
Babuile criticized the legislature for failing to disclose the amount of money used in the recently hosted public participation program of Taking People to Parliament.
“Parliament didn’t go to the people. Instead, the people were brought to the legislature. Ordinary citizens of the province didn’t attend that setup because they didn’t have access. The legislature had a limitation of participants.
“We have raised questions to the legislature about the expenditure of this exercise, and we have not yet received it. Actually there is a tendency within the legislature of not responding to questions posed to the Speaker about activities in the legislature,” he said.
The DA’s provincial deputy leader, Freddy Sonakile, concurred with the EFF and said the legislature’s taking Parliament to the people was just a wasteful futile program.
“It has become a trend for the North West legislature and the provincial government to be spending more funds on these talk shops, whereby there is no value that the public derives out of them.
“The latest program of Taking Parliament to the People, which was budgeted for about R10 million just turned out to be a total talk shop. MECs did not even respond directly to questions. The concept itself was wrong.
“Remember taking the legislature to the people is the replica of taking parliament to the people whereby members of the legislature leave their comfort zone and go to the people. They go to townships and rural areas to experience firsthand the conditions that the residents are experiencing and provide answers.
“So this one was not the same. In this one people were transported to the legislature at a very huge cost on catering and transport. It was really out of what the concept stands for. It has become a provincial phenomenon because even the provincial government does the same, with them they will be calling them summits or makgotla.
“For example, since 2019 more than R800 000 has been spent on those makgotlas and summits by the North West government. And you find out that they only become talk shops and their recommendations are not even implemented. So it’s really futile,” Sonakile said.
The North West government has denied paying for any Imbizos in the current financial year, while the provincial legislature has declined to comment.